A Land Between

by Leah Johnson

Yesterday, a song lyric stuck with me: “Joy still comes in the morning / hope still walks with the hurting” (by Matt Maher in the song Alive and Breathing).  Because it was such a pleasant tune it stayed with me over the next several hours.  I found it expectant, upbeat, on the edge of the next … something; it made me wonder how God will resolve the next situation. 

In this season of life, I’m not hurting, though I do find I’m “in between.”  Theoretically, we are coming out of COVID quarantine.  Schools are back in session, so I will be back to volunteering at an after school program for hurting children.  We must re-tool and change our approach completely.  The Lord is taking me out of my rut and I’m feeling it.  What’s next?  Our congregation’s programing for kids has not resumed, so that’s another volunteer opportunity on hold.  I don’t feel useful, productive.  I know about Jeff Manion’s book, The Land Between.  Maybe I should read it now.  He focuses on the uniqueness of Israel’s journey from their liberation to their final destination of the Promised Land.  At times of uncertainty, they wanted to return to sitting around pots of meat in their proverbial “good old days” (Numbers 11:5).  Did they actually have plenty to eat as they said, or was that how they chose to remember their slavery?  Is this my attitude?  Do I long for what used to be, meanwhile missing the lesson God has in front of me right now?

How about you?  Are you at loose ends?  Unsure of the future?  As an elder’s wife, do you feel like you’re in a “land between?”  Are some of your areas of volunteer ministry on hold right now?  It feels strange doesn’t it?  Do these days make you feel tense, uncertain about tomorrow?  Why would “normal” be behind us, “back there,” before COVID?  What if “normal” is tomorrow, where God is lovingly leading us?

Let’s go back to the song lyric, “joy [still] comes in the morning.”  We get that phrase from Psalm 30.  David wrote Psalm 30, but he wrote it for the occasion of the Temple’s dedication, which happened years after his death.  David was looking ahead, to the future, expectantly watching God at work and waiting on His deliverance.  Rather than blame God for the stressful times while he ran away from Saul’s murderous intentions, David understood it as an opportunity for growth.  God wasn’t out to “get him,” rather in a Father’s love, He was giving David a chance to repent, be stronger, grow closer to his heavenly Father.  David didn’t perceive trials as God picking on him but rather that he was being shaped and refined for future service.

How about us today?  Do I moan, “Why is God making it so hard for me?” or even “Why is God allowing this?”, do I ask instead, “What am I supposed to learn from this situation?”  I can find joy when I know that God is working in my life.  There is hope when I am hurting because God is walking with me through this “land between.”

I am not alone.  We are not alone.

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